Saying Goodbye to Your Angel Animals

How Do You Know When You're ready to Adopt Another Pet?

            There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It all depends on the personís ability to recover from pet loss, which may be compounded and complicated by reminders of other losses. Many people find that by giving themselves a few months or even a year or more, they can welcome a new pet with energy and excitement. Others find that the hole in their hearts is so great they must fill the void as soon as possible.

That said, we believe that usually itís best to wait before adopting a new pet. We suggest that bereaved people allow themselves ample time to grieve. The amount of time varies with the individual.

            If you bring home another pet too soon, youíre likely to compare one with the other. Itís only natural to wish that the new pet would be like the previous one you miss. Each animal, like each person, is individual with his or her own personality and needs.

Exercises to Try

            One exercise we offer in our book, Saying Goodbye to Your Angel Animals: Finding Comfort after Losing a Pet, is to post one of your favorite photos of the deceased pet in a place where youíll see it regularly. Notice how often you are looking at the picture and what you are feeling. As you begin to look at the photo less frequently and feel less pain and more joy, these are signs that you are healing.

            Another exercise is to observe if you are drawn to interact with other animals and donít feel guilty about deriving pleasure from the activity. If you adopt a pet too soon, you may unknowingly withhold affection because you feel like you are betraying the previous pet by letting yourself love another one.

Dreams of the Next Pet

            Dreams about the pet who passed away are often barometers of recovery. Many people have told us that at first, they were sad and cried in their dreams as they tried to find or embrace their pet. Later, the pet might appear in the dream in such a comforting and vivid way that the person felt the animals was saying goodbye.

Other dreams have involved the previous pet bringing another pet to the person as if giving permission to move on with life. The dream is sometimes interpreted literally when the person meets the new pet in real life and recognizes this is the one their previous pet has chosen for them. These dreams bring closure and the sense that only the physical body is gone, not the spirit or the love. They enable the person to consider a new adoption.

Channel Your Love to Those Who Need It

Since adopting a pet too early in the grieving process might be detrimental to the next animal, it is often a good idea to volunteer your services or make donations to an animal shelter. About six months after our cat Feisty died, we were feeling the need to be with more cats and so we volunteered at a local shelter. We spent time socializing the cats so they would have healthy experiences with humans and be ready to go home with one. We met our dear kitty Cuddles at this animal shelter and have lived happily ever after with her.

Use these techniques and you will know when the time is right for you to open your home and your heart to a new animal family member.

--Allen and Linda Anderson


Finding Comfort after Losing Your Pet

ďAs a veterinary medical correspondent and lifetime pet lover, I believe in both the power of pets and the power of stories to heal. This book. . .offers a wide range of healing activities, wise information, compassionate reflection, and practical help for honoring and memorializing the life of your pet.Ē
--Dr. Marty Becker, resident veterinarian on ABCís Good Morning America and author of Chicken Soup for the Pet Loverís Soul